Butting Against A Culture Clash

| Japan | Learning | December 2, 2013

(I teach English in Japan. I am walking to my classroom when I hear giggling coming from inside. I see one sixth-grade aged boy burst from the darkened room and run off to another classroom. I assume that some students are roughhousing in there. I proceed to walk into the classroom and turn on the lights. I see two of my male students on the floor. The larger has not only pinned the smaller to the floor, but has pulled his pants down and is spanking his bare butt. They had been laughing, but everyone freezes the moment the light turns on.)

Smaller Student: “Let’s go.”

(I try to start teaching like nothing had happened. Later, I ask an older Japanese teacher about what I should do.)

Older Teacher: “Were they having fun?”

Me: “Yes…”

Older Teacher: “Oh. Okay, then.”

(The older teacher was not phased, or bothered by the incident, as if it were a normal occurrence. I guess that the moral of the story is that consent is more important than propriety, although I still refused to go anywhere near that spot for the rest of the day!)

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